Eye on Certification: Data Storage

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In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore released a now-famous article in which he observed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled each year since the integrated circuit was invented. “The complexity for minimum component cost has increased at roughly a factor of two per year,” he wrote. “Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not increase.” Pundits later dubbed this forecast annual augmentation “Moore’s Law,” which eventually was expanded—many would say inaccurately—to include processing power, networking speed and, particularly, data storage.

Regardless of how data storage applies to Moore’s Law (and vice versa), though, even casual students of the history of information technology can corroborate the claim that storage capacity has increased exponentially in recent years. Case in point: A recent IDC Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker report showed that disk storage systems—arrangements of storage elements that include controllers, cables and host bus adapters associated with three or more disks—grew by more than 40 percent year-over-year (compared with the same business quarter in the preceding year) in the second quarter of 2004. During that same quarter, approximately 275 petabytes (a petabyte is equivalent to 1 million gigabytes) of data were shipped, or more than 30 times the total amount of information available on the Internet at present. In addition, experts estimate the volume of new information produced will increase at an annual rate of between 30 percent and 50 percent, ensuring data storage capability will have to meet the Moore’s Law standard (even if that’s not really what he was referring to initially).

IT professionals who want to get ahead in this white-hot field (incidentally, storage professionals reported being the second most well-compensated grouping in IT in Certification Magazine’s December 2004 Salary Survey, after system designers) should consider the following storage certifications, offered by some of the most established organizations in the market, as stepping-stones on their career paths.

EMC Corp., a provider of products, services and solutions for information storage and management, has a Proven Professional program that offers customers and partners training and education for positioning, designing, implementing, managing and maintaining an infrastructure for information lifecycle management. The program is comprised of four certification tracks: storage administrator, technology architect, customer engineer and implementation engineer. The curriculum includes more than 45 instructor-led and 75 e-learning courses in areas like business continuity, storage area networks (SANs), network attached storage (NAS) and storage management. The course content, exam and credential are identical to that which EMC uses to teach, test and certify its own technical personnel.

The EMC Proven Professional for Customers program has five specialty areas within its Storage Administrator credentialing track: Business Continuity Specialty, CLARiiON Solutions Specialty, Networked Storage Specialty, Storage Area Networks Specialty and Storage Management Specialty. The program is three-tiered, allowing candidates to progress through associate, specialty and expert levels.

For more information, see www.emc.com/certification.

Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)
The SNIA Storage Networking Certification Program (SNCP) offers vendor-neutral, systems-level credentials that are designed to harmonize with various certifications offered by different data storage companies. The program underwent some major revisions last year, which included the retirement of the FC SAN Professional exam, the FC SAN Practitioner exam and the FC SAN Specialist exam. (Note: The latter two were scheduled to be removed on Dec. 31, 2004 at press time.)

The SNCP program is divided into four domains: concepts, which addresses the fundamental principles involved in all data storage vocations; standards, which deals with the technology subjects related to technical standards; solutions, which pertains to the skills and knowledge need to configure and manage storage networking solutions; and products. SNIA offers the following certifications: SNIA Certified Professional (SCP), SNIA Certified Systems Engineer (SCSE), SNIA Certified Architect (SCA) and SNIA Certified Storage Networking Expert (SCSN-E). In addition, SNIA periodically holds a two-day Storage Networking Foundations Certification Workshop for individuals who want to earn the SCP credential by passing the SNIA Storage Networking Foundations exam.

For more information, see www.snia.org/education/certification.

Cisco has certifications at both the Qualified Specialist and Expert levels for the data storage professional. In the former category, Cisco offers the Storage Networking Design Specialist, which validates knowledge of selection and integration of Cisco storage products to create a storage networking solution based on converged architecture; the Storage Networking Support Specialist, which verifies an individual’s ability to install, arrange and troubleshoot Cisco storage products to manage a storage networking environment; and Storage Networking Sales Specialist, which demonstrates comprehension of storage networking architecture, particularly as it relates to the MDS 9000 product family. All of these exams are valid for one year.

Cisco recently added storage networking to its Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) program. CCIE Storage Networking candidates are required to pass a written exam covering theoretical concepts and a lab exam to demonstrate hands-on skill. They also must demonstrate aptitude with SAN switches and directors, routers, switches and management solutions. The certification specifically deals with the MDS 9000 Series, but is not limited solely to Cisco products and solutions.

For more information, see www.cisco.com/en/US/learning/index.html.

Sun provides data storage certifications, as well as supplemental training, for IT professionals who work with the company’s products. Sun’s Network Storage curriculum and certifications, which were developed with data management software provider VERITAS, deal with data management, backup and recovery, and SANs.

The Sun Certified Data Management Engineer credential is designed for storage managers and system administrators who administer disc array storage systems, and offers candidates two paths based on two products: Solstice DiskSuite or VERITAS Volume Manager Software. The Sun Certified Backup and Recovery Engineer certification measures knowledge of reliable backup methodology, restoration of data and ability to meet design requirements. The Sun Certified Storage Architect credential validates the skills of those responsible for designing and administering SANs, and focuses on the candidate’s understanding of SAN design and implementation, installation, administration and troubleshooting of SAN hardware and software.

For more information, see suned.sun.com/US/certification/storage/index.html.

Brian Summerfield is associate editor for Certification Magazine. He can be reached at brians@certmag.com.


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